Bobby Dee has a new “An Open Letter on Studies in Weird Fiction” essay, at Wikithulhu. Including a useful discussion of what he calls “zombie ideas”, also known as received wisdom or outright myths, for example that ‘Lovecraft had syphilis’ or that he was ‘involved in the occult’.

He also suggests the need for a better framing and subtle contextualising of research questions, something which is all the more useful for those hefting a big axe they intend to grind on Lovecraft’s gravestone (‘Lovecraft was a racist, woman-hater, bad writer, disliked puppy dogs, etc’)…

“[on the ‘he hated women’ accusation]…how did Lovecraft’s depiction of women compare to those of his peers? Certainly Lovecraft handled women differently than Dashiell Hammet or Ernest Hemingway, but how does Lovecraft’s use of female characters stack up compared to Seabury Quinn [the star name of Weird Tales, at the time], or his fellow masters of the weird Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith? … [then it would] perhaps [be] worth retreading some [of that] old ground

I might have added an extra paragraph about the need to discover the wider historical context of one’s research question, and also to take into account a previous researcher’s apparent biases, most often inculcated by the historical era in which they were raised and trained. But sometimes also by their personal idiosyncrasies, such as L. Sprauge de Camp’s blockheaded inability to detect when Lovecraft was joking and joshing or running into self-parodic hyperbole in his letters, which was frequently.

Advertisements